Reader engagement. How to obtain it, how to maintain it? The late Marlon Brando* says, in referring to his Academy Award nomination for On The Waterfront, “there are times I know I did much better acting in that scene on the Waterfront. It had nothing to do with me. The audience does the work. They are doing the acting. Everybody feels they could’ve been the contender” (2015).
I saw this on the plane and immediately had to get this quote down because it triggered a rather large and now obvious epiphany about reader engagement. Scott McCloud coined the term “closure” in Understanding Comics (1993) to refer to the process of joining information from panel to panel, where we take fragmented and incomplete visual information and fill in the blanks. This is posited as one of the major contributing factors to comics’ ability to facilitate reader engagement. The reader is constantly pulling together disparate images and text in sequential panels and creating a cohesive story whole in their minds. Brando’s remark for a secondary track of reader engagement, through the identification with character and empathy via shared experiences. This is just another reason for me to keep plugging away with a truthful and uncensored voice within my work.
* Listen to me Marlon is a documentary made with compilations of his private audio recordings.